Bear’s Heart (Nockkoist). “Cheyenne Hunting Buffalo” (Pages 28-29) from book of sketches made at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Fla. 1877. Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Enduring Buffalo


This exhibition reflects upon the buffalo as essential to Indigenous lifeways on the Plains since time immemorial. Euro-American colonizers and the United States government attempted to eradicate the species in a calculated strategy to subdue Native people and force them onto reservations in the late 19th century. This effort fundamentally transformed Native artmaking, both historically and presently. The critical importance of the buffalo within Plains Indigenous cultures can be felt across artworks that pre- and post-date the attempted eradication of the species.

Featured artists whose names are known to us include:

  • Pawnee Bear Doctors Society, Nebraska
  • Making Medicine (O-kuh-ha-tuh) (Cheyenne, b. circa 1844, Indian Territory, now OK; d. 1931, Watonga, OK)
  • Bear’s Heart (Nockkoist) (Cheyenne, b. 1851, Great Plains, d. 1882,Indian Territory, now Oklahoma)
  • Long Soldier (Húnkpapȟa Lakȟóta, active 19th–20th century)
  • Cannupa Hanska Luger (enrolled Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold and Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara and Lakota heritage, b. 1979, Standing Rock Indian Reservation, ND)

Preoccupied: Indigenizing the Museum is a wide-reaching project that proposes Indigenizing interventions to address and refuse the oppressive hierarchies of coloniality that pervade the realm of culture and serve as the underpinning of museums. The project encompasses community engagement, a series of nine monographic and thematic exhibitions, institutional interventions, public programs, and an untraditional catalog.


Curated by Leila Grothe, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art and Dare Turner (Yurok Tribe), Curator of Indigenous Art at the Brooklyn Museum, with support from Curatorial Research Assistant Elise Boulanger (Citizen of the O​sage Nation).

This project is generously supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Additional support provided by the Eileen Harris Norton Foundation and The Robert Lehman Foundation.